Voyage to Maternite'

I pushed the call button and heard a voice, "How can I help you?"

Was I hallucinating or did someone just come over a loud speaker in my hospital room?

"Hello? Do you need something?" Asked the voice.

"Oh, um, can someone please come in?" I responded.

"What do you need?"

Apparently the hospital thought they were running a hotel.

"Um, I need ice. For my er..." Given the fact that I had delivered Madison the previous night I would think they could fill in the blanks.

I carefully shifted onto my left side to gaze at my sleeping beauty.  My eyes traced the baby's pink, blue and white hat down to her button nose and then surveyed her perfectly lined lips.  You couldn't pay for lip liner that fabulous.

A little sneeze escaped her mouth waking her up just enough to let out a cry. I attempted to sit straight up so I could scoop her from her little throne. Ouch. I tried to sit up to my right. Ow. Then to the left. Ah.  Every which way I turned I felt like my vagina to my rear would rip in half, again. The baby was now in full cry and I was in full whimper. We were a dysfunctional duo already.  I decided to shimmy my way down the bed so that I could simply turn over on my side and grab her when my arms were even with her body. Once I was down there I assumed "the grab" would be easy. Boy was I wrong. My arms just didn't seem long enough to reach from that angle. I felt like a T Rex. Maybe if I swung my legs over the side of the bed and then sat up I would be able to do it. Legs. Ah. Body. Up. A little uncomfortable, but not so bad.

"Why didn't you buzz?" Said a nurse from behind me. How long was she standing there? Did she watch the whole thing with a box of popcorn in her hands?

"I buzzed," I said while I attempted to pick up Madison. How was it possible that I was still at a terrible angle to pick her up? I suppose standing was really the only way to pick her up. My vagina would not be pleased.

"You idiot, you are doing it wrong," was basically what the nurse said.  I don't think you can do it right when you are unable to move the lower half of your body. Just saying.

I deciphered that the baby was probably hungry. The night before I had told the nurse in my epidural fog that it was ok to give her a bottle and that I would probably give breastfeeding a go the next day. So this was it, my first time. My girlfriends had warned me that the nurses would be boob pushers so I was not prepared for what was about to happen.

The nurse eyed me while I adjusted myself back into my hospital bed with Maddie in my arms. No instructions were given so I inquired, "How do I start?"

"Just place her on there," were her thorough directions.

I awkwardly tried to move her face onto my nipple, "like this?" I asked.

"Do you have friends that breastfeed?" She asked.


"Ask one of them. I'm sure they have it down."  I laughed. The nurse did not. She didn't laugh because she was serious. Seriously unhelpful. While this woman was clearly not a lactation consultant I would think as a registered nurse she may have more of an inkling as to the correct methodology or hey, maybe give a shit enough to try to help.

Before I could utter my disbelief she muttered something about taking out my IVs and left the room to not help someone else.

So there I was with a baby crying into my boob. I reached over for the bottle on the table next to us. The truth is I think deep down I was looking for an excuse to bow out of that whole process. While Madison enjoyed her breakfast I took a peak at the clock, it was nearly 7:30 in the morning. No one from the family was due back until close to 11 a.m. Madison and I would have our first stretch of alone time together. There was a definitive blend of fear and excitement in the pit of my stomach. It was reminiscent of the way I felt while driving in Europe with Mom for my cousin's wedding three springs prior. Mom and I were tasked with driving from Geneva International Airport to the Parisian countryside. We had a six-hour plane ride followed by a two-hour car ride and very little knowledge of the French language. Five years of French in school still left me saying, "Je ne sais pas!" ....I really didn't know.

Mom wasn't exactly a jet setter who loved airports and flying in general. So the fact that she willingly flew to another continent and then drove through two countries with me was completely knock-you-off-your-seat shocking which made the woman that much cooler.  This was a woman whose idea of a long trip was driving three hours to the Jersey shore with her favorite blanket wrapped around her legs.

Our cousins: Chris (the groom!) and Teisha
You had to be a pretty special person to receive this level of mileage from Mom. She didn't make trips like this for just anyone. When she loved "her people" she loved them with all her heart.  It was important to her that she be there for both of us and equally as important that she do this stress-free. During take-off she raised her eyebrows and shook her pill case of Xanex at me. Likewise when we jumped in our rented car she gave me the same mischievous look and pulled the case out of her bag and held it in the air, "a little candy for the road?"

Needless to say for a good forty-five minutes of the drive Mom was snoring like a truck driver at a rest stop while I jammed to pop-sounding French music and a random station of American oldies that I found.  Mom's head bobbed off her seat just long enough for me to notice her hair was standing up like she had put her hand in a socket.  Naturally, I pulled over to get a few pictures. Mom woke up to me laughing. She then cleverly reminded me that she had pictures of me from eighth grade.

"Did you want me to erase these now?" was my response.

Our Villa: Burgundy, France 2011
When we walked into our room at the villa Mom literally dropped to her knees and kissed the ground. She then proceeded to sing, "God Bless America" in its entirety.   We were delirious from the car ride and happy to have arrived in one piece. Sure, we were in France, but the song seemed right. We laughed our way through the weekend and made some pretty amazing memories with the rest of our family.

Before we knew it, we were making our way back to good ol' Jersey. We had slept for just two hours after the wedding before heading back to the airport so we were overtired and a bit
punchy. While waiting near our gate, we noticed a man who kept getting up from his seat when someone of the female gender sat down close to him.

"Are you seeing this?" I asked Mom.

"You'd have to be blind not to," Mom retorted.

"My kindle battery died," I whined to my mother like a three-year-old.

"Listen to your music, or, I've got an even better idea. Come on.." Mom proceeded to get up and found herself a seat directly next to where our friend was sitting. I was speechless. Sure enough, he got up and briskly walked to find a new home for his rear end.

"We could just do this for the next hour to kill some time. One small movement for us, one giant leap for women everywhere."I nearly spit out my water.

On the way home to my parent's house I admitted that I thought we had a good shot of getting stranded somewhere on the French countryside. Mom admitted she thought we would surely end up crashing on some unchartered island like in the show Lost. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is an understatement with us. We were both nuts.

Just like your MeMa and I in France, you and I would make it through the first part of our journey together on that sunny Thursday morning after you were born. Those first few hours alone are ones I will always cherish. I got so lost in your beauty that I almost didn't notice your father walking into the room with my second bologna sandwich. I hadn't even finished my first one. When you tell your Grandpa and Father you want something, they go for broke. Between the two of them I made up for the nine months without cold cuts in a matter of a week.

Just three days later I got to celebrate my first Mother's day with both of your Grandmothers in attendance. I was a new sleep-deprived Momma who was more than relieved to have the two best mothers I knew there.

I didn't have socks on you. I didn't hold your head as well as I should have. I burped you after every few gulps of formula. I know it pained both of them to watch me make these mistakes, but they knew I needed to make them. MeMa had watched me grow up as a little girl and knew many times the only way I learned how to do something right was to do it wrong first. She did however suggest I throw a blanket on her "baby cakes," and finally broke asking me, "Are ya going to cover up this kid's feet or what?"

I remember getting up to prepare you a bottle in our very modest kitchen in our Midtown East Manhattan apartment. When I looked out into our living room I saw your Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Christy, Uncle Brian and Daddy laughing while you cooed in your MeMa's arms. I felt an instant surge of comfort knowing how loved you were and in turn, how loved I was.

They say it's all in the journey and not the destination. My sweet daughter, this I know is true. I know because in every goal I have sought to attain I have looked back not on the accomplishment, but on what got me there. You will never be alone in your journey as I have never been in mine.

Someday when we travel to the French countryside together I am sure I will play the part of the snoring mother. Before you get too tempted to capture that moment, you should know the I have tons of pictures of you stark naked.

MeMa and I at cocktail hour


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